Squash Soup 2

In recent years, we’ve begun our Thanksgiving dinner with a warm comforting bowl of butternut squash soup.  I always like the idea of squash or pumpkin soup, but I don’t really like most of the soups themselves.  Generally they’re too sweet and heavy for my taste.  I’ve kept at it, though, and I’ve come up with a recipe that I really love.  If you’re fond of squash concoctions that might contain, say, pureed apple and are thick enough to spread on toast, this might not be for you.  But if you prefer lighter, more savory soups, I think you’re going to like this one.  The Vadouvan spice blend (see my post here for a recipe) is optional, but it adds a warm, exotic dimension to the flavor.  If you don’t have Vadouvan, the soup will still be delicious:  I’ll tell you how to amplify other flavors in the recipe to take its place, or you can add a teaspoon or two of your favorite curry powder.

 

Recipe

For six first course servings.  Quantities pictured are double this.

Ingredients

Squash1

1 1/2 pounds winter squash (finished weight), peeled, seeded and cut into about 1 inch cubes.  (Butternut squash is always good, but so are other winter squashes.  Pictured are Sweet Dumpling and Golden Acorn squash — they were delicious in the soup.)

2 large shallots, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

1 15oz can of diced tomatoes

1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf

1/4 cup Vadouvan spice blend, or 1 to 2 teaspoons of your favorite curry powder (according to taste)

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 cups water (or more)

salt and pepper

If not using Vadouvan, increase the shallots to 4, add 3 large thyme sprigs and 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg.

Instructions

1.  Peel, seed and cube the squash into about 1-inch pieces.  (They can be very irregular — the soup is pureed.)  You should end up with about 3 1/2 cups. Peeling squash with a vegetable peeler is a time-consuming chore.  Instead, I quarter the squash lengthwise and then use a sharp knife to cut away the skin, preserving as much flesh as I can (the squash’s that is, not mine), but I don’t worry about getting every little bit.

Squash2

2.  Cook the shallots, celery, tomatoes, bay leaf (and, if using, thyme) in the oil in a heavy pot over low heat until softened, about 8 minutes.

Squash3

Squash4

3.  Add squash, water, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and Vadouvan.  (If not using Vadouvan, add the nutmeg in addition to these ingredients.)

Squash5

4.  Increase heat to high and bring to the boil.  Then, reduce head to medium low and simmer until the squash is very tender, about 25 minutes.

Squash6

5.  Remove bay (and thyme, if using) and puree the soup until smooth.  If you don’t have an immersion blender (which I strongly recommend for this type of thing), puree the soup in batches in a regular blender.  When pureeing hot liquids in a blender, take great care not to burn yourself:  never fill the container more than half way, don’t seal it closed (either remove the plug in the lid or leave the lid slightly ajar), cover the top with a kitchen towel and turn away to protect your eyes and face. Return the soup to the pot, thin with water, if desired, and season to taste with salt and  pepper.

Serve as is, or garnish with sour cream or yoghurt and chopped chives.  This soup keeps for several days in the refrigerator and freezes very well.

DDbug2

 

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